August was always the marker of one of my favorite months growing up as an avid videogame player for one reason: Madden. I was all about getting the game at midnight, heading home in eager anticipation of figuring out which overrated — or even retired — veteran free agents were available to sign in Franchise Mode to the Lions and then taking them all the way to a Super Bowl. But before I would jump into a franchise and sign, say, Peter Boulware and Ty Law to transform a pedestrian Lions’ defense into a force to be reckoned with in Madden NFL 06, the first thing I would do is check the rosters for each and every team in the league. Who was overrated? Who was underrated? Just how much better was I going to make virtual Jon Kitna? Burning questions that could only be answered once I had my hands on a copy of the game in late August.
But now, in this age of information-overload, the Madden ratings are released online, ready and available to be poured over and scrutinized ad nauseam.
The ratings for Madden NFL 17 just recently dropped and much to the chagrin of Lions’ fans everywhere, the ratings for the Lions aren’t pretty; it’s going to take more than Boulware and Law to take these virtual 2016 Detroit Lions to a Super Bowl victory.
The highest-rated Lions players should come as no surprise: Ezekiel Ansah and Darius Slay both earned 90 overalls. Ansah is currently ranked as the sixth-best right end, tied with former Lions right end Cliff Avril, and placing just ahead of Rams right end Robert Quinn and the Vikings Everson Griffen. The likes of Olivier Vernon, Jurrell Casey and J.J. Watt are some of the players rated better than Ansah in this year’s version of the game.
The previously mentioned Slay is the eighth-best cornerback in Madden 17, tied with Denver’s Aqib Talib and Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant, but besting other corners such as New England’s Malcolm Butler, Oakland’s Sean Smith and Alex Reno’s favorite cornerback, Jason Verrett. Darrelle Revis, top-rated Josh Norman and Patrick Peterson are some of the corners virtual Darius Slay will be looking to top in the upcoming months during roster updates.
Outside of their two top talents, the Lions are incredibly average, with a lot of their depth being rated worse than the rest of the league’s backups. Rookie Taylor Decker is a 76 overall, newly-acquired receiver Anquan Boldin is a 79 overall and Marvin Jones stands as the highest-rated free agent acquisition by the Lions at just an 82 overall.
Here are some of the other ratings of Lions worth noting: Golden Tate at 89, DeAndre Levy at 87, Matthew Stafford at 85, Theo Riddick — the top-rated Lions’ running back — at 81, Eric Ebron at 76 — 22 overall points worse than Aaron Donald — and Don Muhlbach with a 50 overall which makes him four overall points higher than fellow long-snapper Jimmy Landes.
Overall, the Lions are situated in the bottom third of the league and rate out only slightly better than the Chicago Bears in the NFC North.
To view the rest of the ratings for the Lions and the rest of the league, head over to the Madden NFL website. Let us know who you're most excited to play with come this August 23rd.
Images are from Madden NFL 16 and credit to Andrew Kato for playing video games for this article.